Posts Tagged ‘professional development’

A Human Malady: The Status Quo of Achievement

Many people continually strive to change the status quo.  Then once they reach whatever they want to achieve, receive their accolades, they stop.  I was reminded of this when listening to Coach Lou Holtz give a commencement speech and he shared his greatest mistake.

Listen to Lou Holtz speech

Status Quo  of Satisfaction

We observe this in sales.  For those who meet sales goals, they suddenly become satisfied and stop prospecting.  Coasting now becomes the observable behavior and translates into complacency.”Why sell more?” becomes the rationale question to justify this coasting behavior. Continued achievement will give them no more in sales compensation.

How about with personal or professional development?  People reach a level of achievement and stop learning.

status-quoWe see this by the number of books people read or don’t read. Are you one of the 42% of U.S. college grads who never read another book after graduation?

The world is changing minute by minute because of technology through connectivity and innovation.  Artificial intelligence (AI) along with robots are here not to mention all the other scientific inroads.

When we find satisfaction with the status quo, we are not growing. We are not moving forward.

My father and his family were immigrants into this country.  All three of his brothers until they died had a tower of books to read.  The older two brothers along with my father died before computers became part of every day life. However the third brother used the Internet on a daily basis to find answers to his questions.

Each year I draft a personal improvement plan that includes 100 hours of off site professional development.  This year I will be learning about real estate as a recent move has made me realize I know very little about land and real estate.

My own personal and professional development includes reading at least 1 hour every day.  This is not difficult to do given how many articles I read along with professional publications, blogs, newspapers, etc.

The status quo of achievement is indeed a human malady and translates into a barrier to continued any success be it sales, leadership or even health. Once we realize we must look to always challenge the status quo, we can indeed understand life is truly about moving forward, seeking that next level of achievement.

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Your Commitment to Your Professional Growth Is?

Yesterday, I made this short update at LinkedIn about professional growth for executive coaches, business coaches or sales coaches:

If you are not continually expanding your knowledge, testing your own boundaries, how can you ask your coaching clients to do the same?

Even though I referenced those in professional coaching roles, this question can be asked of any professional in any role including sales, executive leadership, management and even customer service.

With over 97% of all U.S. businesses being fewer than 20 employees, professional growth many times falls on the financial shoulders of each individual.  These investments toward continuing professional development may range from buying books, joining organizations to even hiring an executive coach.

Some recent research by RandstadUSA suggests that millennials expect their employers to pay for their professional development. This may be true if the firms are large enough in revenue to fund those expectations.

The question to be asked is why aren’t you investing in your own professional growth?  Possibly the fear of it might not work?  I can attest even when I purchase a book or attend a seminar that I discover is not up to my expectations, I still walk away with one tidbit of knowledge.  My growth is not dramatic, but there is growth.

FEAR is for the most part False Evidence Appearing Real. 

Right now write down your goals for your own personal and professional growth.  For example, read one recently published book per month on sales or leadership. Did you know that 23% of 18-49 year olds have not read a book in the last 12 months. This number increases to 29% for adults 50 years old and older.  (Source: Pew Research)

P.S. Remember, this old saying “The chicken was involved; the pig was committed.”

If you are unsure of how to construct a good goal statement or lack your own action plan for professional growth, then CLICK HERE. If you wish to speak with me, Leanne, then click here for a free strategy session or call 219.508.2859 MST.

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip #15 Expertise

People buy from people they know and trust.  Your sustainable sales success can be directly traced back to how much people trust you.  Expertise is one of the crucial factors that works to build that trust.

sales-successSome industries such as real estate, financial and healthcare require continuing education units to ensure their members have a high degree of competence. What is interesting to note, the National Association of Realtors in its 2015 Danger Report stated the number one danger in residential real estate was the incompetence of real estate agents.

I believe there is a direct correlation between expertise and professional development. If salespeople do not invest in their own professional development, how can they confidently display expertise and trust when talking to sales leads.

Years ago at a local lunch and learn for building customer loyalty, I asked the presenter, a local noted “expert” on customer service about “internal customers.”  He looked at me with a puzzled look and asked me to explain what are “internal customers.”  I did and he told me that was a “nice theory.” His response told me he lacked expertise and from that point forward I did not trust anything he said.

Sustainable sales success is possible.  Yes it does require dedicating time to reading the perspectives of others from blogs, journals and books. Also attending paid learning events devoted to one’s field of study as well as gaining additional knowledge about indirect fields of knowledge.  For example, salespeople today must know about their own solutions and then how to market those solutions.

I am fortunate to be connected to a group of sales professionals who share their expertise.  This sharing has helped me to gain additional knowledge about sales to technology.  Additionally, this sharing has saved me incredible amount of time because I do not have to research to find the best solutions.

My suggestion if you desire sustainable sales success is to schedule time for developing your expertise.  Read a book, take a class, do some research and your sales leads just might be more willing to know and trust you.

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Time to Stop with the Cheap Sales Behaviors – Part 2



Continuing with the cheap sales behaviors, here are another four (4) that may resonate with you.

Professional Development

How much time do you devote to your own professional development? Are you in the sales behavior of self-directed learning?  Sales continues to change even though in many instances it still remains the same.  With more educated buyers, understanding value creation, value articulation and value realization is essential if you truly want to increase sales.

If you say you don’t have time, do you waste 12 minutes a day? If you answered yes, that is one hour a week.  So time becomes another excuse to continue your cheap sales behaviors.

Common Courtesy

What does it take to send a handwritten thank you note?  No it is cheaper to send an email than to take the time to express your thanks for an act of kindness.  Loyal customers as well as centers of influence appreciate those acts of kindness and will remember you before the last salesperson who called on them.

Returned Phone Calls

Another cheap sales behavior is not returning phone calls.  “I don’t have time” or “I’ll call back later” is an inexcusable cheap sales behavior. With all the SMB in the marketplace, your sales lead or customer will just as quickly call your competitor.

Spraying and Praying Sales Behaviors

Possibly the cheapest sales behaviors are what I call spraying and praying. These behaviors are the result of no strategic planning including no market research.  SMB owners to salespeople spray their actions all over the place and then pray something will stick.

These are the folks passing out multiple cards at B2B networking events. There is no clarity as to their next marketing, selling or keeping sales behaviors.

Yes cheap has always existed, doing the least for the most. For those engaged in selling, cheap sales behaviors just may ensure you have cheap sales.

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Why Investment in Professional Development Is Essential

Do you make an investment in your own professional development?  If you don’t, shame on you. With the speed of change at rapid pace, to not work ON yourself means you are truly behind the flow.

professional-developmentYesterday I invested over 13 hours of my time attending a seminar offered by Ari Galper.  I did this to make my quarterly goal of 25 hours of professional development away from my office.

To be truthful I was somewhat cynical of this seminar on being the Trusted Authority in sales given I have attended so many similar seminars in the past.  I was truly surprised by the content and the nuggets I gleamed from this rather interesting learning engagement.

Beyond receiving some exceptional content, I also had the opportunity to meet several other professional consultants. executive and business coaches.  Listening to their experiences was also very beneficial.

So often we attend learning engagements that reaffirm our own beliefs.  I appreciated this seminar because it challenged several marketing and selling beliefs I hold very true.

In the coming days, weeks and months I will be applying much of what I learned and refocusing some of my marketing efforts based on this one quote I heard:

“Being a Trusted Authority happens before the sale; being a trusted advisor happens after the sale.”

Since I believe if marketing is done well, selling is effortless (paraphrasing Peter Drucker), then what I learned yesterday will support me to further clarify my marketing and therefore improve my sales results.

You may notice I did not share very much of what I learned and that was intentional.  We live in a B2B world filled with a lot of knowledge.  What we as business coaches and consultants do is give away much of that knowledge because of our desire to “solve” problems because we believe that will encourage someone to hire us. Maybe it is time to rethink that business model?  If you want to experience a day of professional development that will challenge some of your own beliefs and knowledge, then reach out to Ari Galper.

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Sales Leadership Talent of Self Improvement

This week I am attending a professional development conference  sponsored by Resource Associates Corporation which will expose me to new ideas regarding self improvement, sales leadership, customer service, continuous business improvement and personal development.  Each year I have the opportunity to attend four of these quarterly conferences.

sales-leadershipFor the last 15 years I have attended these quarterly conferences, sometimes just one a year and sometimes all four.  What I take away from each event is some of the best self improvement knowledge I have ever experienced because each session is facilitated by a peer who has practical experience.

When it comes to sales leadership,  self improvement is a talent as well as a motivator.  We have heard people talk about those individuals always seeking a way to be better, to improve their results and possibly even hear something like “so and so has a knack for self improvement.”

How can we better understand this sales leadership talent of self improvement. Possibly the best place is to define what self improvement means.

The Innermetrix Attribute Index suggests self improvement is “the motivation that a person has based on the importance of improving oneself.   This is motivation by the opportunity to obtain training and educational growth opportunities.” 

From my perspective as I am motivated by learning, I have a fairly solid self improvement score.  What I need to be careful is that this motivating talent can create blind spots to other areas.  When this happens, it is suggested I may have placed an over value on this talent thereby creating an undervalue or a blind spot on another.

With the world changing so fast because of technology and ongoing scientific inroads, top sales performers must continue to expand their knowledge so they can improve their own sales performance.  No longer can sales people expect the company to pay for all of their professional development. They too must have some as they say “skin in the game.”

Today’s top sales performers are indeed those who understand sales leadership is not just the “closed sales”  at the end of the day or week, but all the other motivators, talents and skills that make them who they are.

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Is a Plan to Improve My Sales Team Really Necessary?

Some in sales management balk at the word plan and take serious umbrage about a plan to improve the performance of their sales teams. From my many years of experience, this simple one syllable, four letter word, “plan,” appears to be considered “dirty” and not to be touched even with a 10 foot pole.

plan-to-improveTo answer the question “Is a plan to improve my sales team really necessary?” is quite easily answered by a scene from author Lewis Carroll of “Alice in Wonderland” fame where Alice approaches the Cheshire Cat sitting in the tree. Below the tree are several different paths.  She politely asks the Cat which path should she take. The Cat then replies with a question: “Where are you going?”  Alice answers:  “I do not know.”  So the Cat quickly responds: “Well, then any path will take you there.

The “any path will take you there” is probably not the best way to achieve the desired results whether it is collectively for your sales team, each sales team member or the organization as a whole.

All team members should have their own plans to improve their results. Professional development is becoming more of a personal responsibility issue. However, the mid-size to small business owners and those in sales management must support professional development of their sales professionals. That support may not be paid sales training coaching workshops, but time off to attend those learning opportunities as well as internal sales meetings where sharing of resources can take place.

A plan to improve sales performance should be part of the salesperson’s quarterly performance review. With information doubling each year, professional sales people can no longer sit idle and not participate in this ever increasing expansion of knowledge. There are so many free resources such as Top Sales World to Sales Gravy to individual sales consultants like Miles Austin who unites technology with sales to support crazy, busy sales people. Sales Training Coaching Tip: Miles is my go to guy when I have questions about technology and sales.

Actually, to increase sales and achieve sustainable results all team members including sales management should have individual sales action plans that are aligned to the organization’s strategic and sales action plans. These would be goal driven action plans reinforced by a proven goal setting and goal achievement process and tool.

So if you are in sales management and have had this question “Is a plan to improve my sales team really necessary?”, I hope you now have that answer and will be taking proactive action to execute that answer.

If you want to improve your sales team’s performance, this simple one page sales growth action plan may work for you.

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The Pay Wall and Self Diagnosis

Have you visited the Internet to seek a medical, self diagnosisself-diagnosis-pay-wall?  According to the Pew Center, about one third of the American population did.


Further this study revealed over one quarter (26%) of this population seeking self diagnosis were asked to pay for access to read the information they sought. Of that 26%, only 2% actually did pay. What is also interesting to note is of the 26% who hit the “Pay Wall,”  83% went looking elsewhere and 13% gave up.

As I reflected upon the findings of this study, I thought about the many small to mid size business owners (SMB) along with sales professionals to C Suite executives who look to the Internet for a self diagnosis as to what ails themselves or even their organizations. This behavior is commendable as having the additional information is necessary. The real question is two-fold:

  1. Are they willing to pay for a solution?
  2. What happens with all this self diagnosis information?

Many of these self diagnosis professional development performance appraisal or organizational assessments are free. The percentage may be comparable to health self-diagnosis assessments or information.  With the overwhelming belief guiding many that everything should be free on the Internet and there should not be any “Pay Wall,” I am not surprised of those who continued to seek “free information.” The 2% who did pay is probably comparable to those who are actually willing to pay for a solution.

The real essence of any diagnostic comes from the actual debriefing and the insight provided by the executive consultant or small business coach. Years ago I too gave away free proven performance appraisal assessments for individuals such as the Attribute Index, DISC Index, Values Index and Emotional Intelligence.  I no longer engage in this practice because I believe I was setting people up to fail. Additionally, why should I give away thousands of dollars invested in learning these tools? Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Proven assessments mean the tools have been validated and have high statistical reliability.

Finally, in search for that free assessment, how much time has been invested by the SMB owners, C suite executives or sales professionals? My sense is probably more than what a proven individual performance appraisal assessment with debriefing would cost.  Sales Training Coaching Tip: Proven organizational assessments do require a much more intensive investment.

Time is money.

Just imagine the potential results by investing those lost productivity dollars into a solution that can potentially not only determine what ails you, but provides an action plan for treating.  Yes the “Pay Wall” is the threshold to take your self diagnosis to that next level and crossing over that “Pay Wall” just may advance your ability to achieve solid results from proven performance appraisal assessments.

P.S. If you are a SMB owner, a C Suite Executive or a sales professional, consider this proven performance appraisal tool, the Attribute Index, so that you truly know what you do well and then leverage that knowledge to achieve your results far faster.


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Is Got No Time Your Excuse For Your Own Professional Development?

professional development

With information doubling, tripling, staying ahead of the constant information drip is difficult especially when it comes to a small business owner or sales professional own professional development. Yet I ask my clients if you won’t invest in yourself why should any company invest in you?

Professional development today has gone way past being a life long learner. Today’s truly business savvy professional is a self directed learner who is looking to continually improve his or her own skill sets.

This week I am attending a professional development conference, sponsored by Resource Associates Corporation,  for business consultants and executive coaches in Reading, PA. Over the course of 3 days, the 150 or so conference attendees will explore a variety of breakout sessions and general workshop sessions including these areas of interest:

  • Customizing Solutions Based on Client Needs
  • Client Perspective on Annual Goals Review Leads to More Business
  • Helping Clients with Crucial Conversations

And in many instances, what is gained in the Knowledge Library (aka the bar) sometimes has greater value than the actual breakout or workshop sessions. Additionally this conference provides opportunities to know others and build those necessary strategic partnerships.

Of course attending conferences is not the only professional development action. Listening to webinars, YouTube videos, audio CDs and reading all advance the knowledge of business professionals.

So what are you professional development goals for this year? And if you say you “got no time,” then you truly need self improvement around your own self management because you are probably short changing your clients and even worse yourself.

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How to Increase Sales Tips & Snippets – Schedule Time

There have been many how to increase sales tips in this blog and others. One often ignored one is to schedule time.

Sure sales people schedule time to make phone calls, confirm appointments, gather new sales leads and even work on presentations or proposals. Yet very little time is invested on updating social media profiles, professional development and even more importantly reflection.

Yes I know we are all crazy busy. However, that is truly an excuse. 


When I ask crazy busy sales people as well as small business owners and even C Suite executives if they waste 12 minutes a day, everyone has always responded yes. So the issue is truly not being crazy busy in the quest of how to increase sales, but rather an issue of attitude and habits.

Just re-purpose those wasted 12 minutes, and they are probably more wasted minutes than just 12, into scheduling time for:

  • Updating LinkedIn profile (this is very important)
  • Reading some predetermined sales blog such as Dan Waldschmidt’s, Paul McCord’s or Terri Dunevant’s
  • Posting on Facebook time line or other social media sites with relevant information such as current articles to local community events
  • Share the postings of others
  • Self analysis of last sales call, what went right, what did not go as well, what would be better for the next call?
  • Download an eBook or buy a book and leave it in the car or briefcase for those extra minutes in between phone calls or appointments
  • Send a handwritten note or two to a past customer or a new sales lead

Once you get into the habit of scheduling 12 minutes a day, you will begin to realize personal and professional results rather quickly and ultimately achieve your goal of how to increase sales.

Sales Cartoon



Sales Quote

“Recognize price does not mean giving in especially if it means lowering your standards including price.”

Leanne Hoagland-Smith


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